Many employees have not been at their workplace cubicles for weeks. Now some, including IRS staff, are starting to return, but under dramatically different arrangements. Most taxpayers deal with the Internal Revenue Service electronically. That's the method that the agency has been encouraging for years. But some things still are handled the old-fashioned way. These are paper documents that are mailed by the IRS to taxpayers — like notices you get as an initial contact, not the money-demanding calls from con artists pretending to be IRS employees — and vice versa. Those paper communications, especially those from us to Uncle... Read more →


Can't sleep? You're not alone in these trying, tax and otherwise, times. (Photo by Andrea Piacquadio via Pexels) 2020 has been, at best, a difficult year and we're not even halfway through. For these first five months, millions of us have been facing each day a barrage of concerns that are producing a continual level of extraordinary stress. In addition to our normal day-to-day anxieties, we've been dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, its unemployment and financial fallout, the recent deaths African Americans at the hands of individuals and while in law enforcement custody, heated and escalating political messaging in a... Read more →


It's the last weekend of May. You know what that means. Hurricane season is about to officially start. Of course, Mother Nature doesn't follow the calendars of mere humans. She does what she wants when she wants. And so far this late spring, early summer of 2020, she's thrown a couple of tropical tantrums. We've already had two named tropical storms, Arthur and Bertha. Arthur threatened the North Carolina coast before heading out to sea. Bertha is now washing out as a tropical depression, dropping heavy rain over South Carolina. Plan ahead for storms: But the Atlantic hurricane season, which... Read more →


Finally! That's what every taxpayer who's ever had to file an amended return is saying now that the Internal Revenue Service has announced that the process is going digital. As long as I've been blogging about taxes, I've included in every post about correcting previous tax filings some version of this instruction — An amended return cannot be filed electronically. You must use snail mail, using the appropriate address shown in the 1040X instructions. But in the summer of 2020, that changes. The Internal Revenue Service announced today that "later this summer" the Form 1040-X, Amended U.S Individual Income Tax... Read more →


Millions of folks — around 152 million of us, by the Internal Revenue Service's latest count — have received COVID-19 economic impact payments, or EIPs as they are called in the acronym crazy federal government (and tax) world. The payments of up to $1,200 per individual and $500 for each eligible child were created by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The IRS began sending out EIPs in April. But now, two months after the CARES Act became law on March 27, some EIP-eligible recipients are still waiting for direct deposit or a paper check or a... Read more →


I've been rearranging some upcoming doctors' appoints that I made months ago, well before anyone had heard of COVID-19, much less watched as it overtook our lives. A couple were able to be conducted as teleconferences with my physicians. Some, however, require actual in-office visits. Like getting jabbed for blood work. I'm also rescheduling some appointments originally set for June. These are being changed not because of the coronavirus pandemic, but because of new medical insurance. The dates are now late instead of mid-summer in the hopes that the new policy transition goes smoothly and I won't have to hassle... Read more →


Photo by Suzanne Walker from Pexels Memorial Day 2020 has an added poignancy. This solemn day to commemorate those who gave their lives in military service to the United States is overshadowed by the coronavirus. Almost 100,000 COVID-19 deaths have been recorded, with reporters often referring to military casualty numbers to put the pandemic's human cost in perspective. The Memorial Day events that we are used to seeing or participating in have been altered by COVID-19. Rather than community gatherings to share our sorrow and thanks, most now are limiting attendees or are being done virtually. There is so much,... Read more →


There are a lot of footprints on many U.S. beaches this Memorial Day weekend as folks seek seashores after weeks of staying home due to the coronavirus. (Photo by Wendy Wei via Pexels) This Memorial Day long weekend is a big one for numbers. As most states have relaxed at least some COVID-19 stay home orders, Americans are taking advantage of more openings to celebrate this unofficial start of summer. They are, naturally, heading to spots that offer traditional seasonal activities. There's no official counts of how many folks have flocked to U.S. beaches and lakes and parks, but the... Read more →


The COVID-19 crisis is global, so it's no surprise that actions by U.S. lawmakers to help taxpayers also have some decidedly global complications. And in some cases, it could work out well for U.S. taxpayers who are living and working in other countries. Worldwide earnings, U.S. taxes: Even though these folks no longer live in the United States, they still pay U.S. taxes. America's tax system for individuals is, for the most part, a worldwide one. That means that if you're an American living and working abroad, the Internal Revenue Service still gets a part of your income as U.S.... Read more →


Americans are plastic addicts. I'm not just talking packaging. We depend on plastic payments, aka credit and debit cards. That financial transaction method has made its way into the COVID-19 economic impact payment (EIP) distribution. This week, the Internal Revenue Service began sending debit cards loaded with coronavirus payment amounts to approximately 4 million Americans. As created under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the COVID-19 payment amounts are up to $1,200 for individuals or $2,400 for married couples. Parents also receive $500 for each qualifying child who is younger than 17 at of the end of... Read more →


The delay this year of Tax Day until mid-July also means you have time to make the most of the 2019 health savings account (HSA) limits. One of the distressing health-related side effects of COVID-19 is that many of the millions who have lost jobs due to the pandemic also lost their medical coverage. A new analysis says that here in Texas alone more than hat 1.6 million Texans could become uninsured following job losses. Many who are able to replace employer-provided coverage will turn to a high deductible health plan (HDHP). As the HDHP name indicates, these policies require... Read more →


Forty-three states and the District of Columbia rely to some degree on income taxes from their residents. The good news for most who live in these locations is that the COVID-19 economic impact payments (EIP), which the Internal Revenue Service notes won't be taxed by Uncle Sam, also are tax-free at state levels. But things are a little different in a handful of states. Taxpayers in Alabama, Iowa, Louisiana, Oregon, Missouri and Montana are allowed at least a partial deduction for federal taxes they pay. And that could affect the tax treatment of the coronavirus payments. Flipping tax code effects:... Read more →


We're less than two months from Tax Day 2020, which was pushed to July 15 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Or are we? There's been some talk and a few actual reports in the media that the White House is contemplating pushing the tax deadline back again, possibly to Sept. 15 or even mid-December. Just talk, so far: An NBC News report noted that talks of an even later Tax Day are preliminary. In that same article, Trump Administration officials stressed that no tax date change decision has been made. But some in the tax community are still a little... Read more →


All tax eyes nowadays are on coronavirus relief measures, both the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act that became law in late March and The Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act that passed that passed House on Friday (May 15), but isn't expected move, at least not quickly, through the Senate. That's understandable. Businesses are still struggling, despite some partial re-openings across the country, and most people who got laid off are still out of jobs. They are growing more desperate each day for the financial help that CARES offers and the HEROES promises. But... Read more →


If there's anything positive in this COVID-19 pandemic (yeah, I'm grasping), it's that folks have stocked up on necessities. That's good for those who live in potential hurricane targets. And it's especially fortuitous since, for sixth consecutive year, the Atlantic tropical storm season has started early. A tropical depression formed on Saturday, May 16, afternoon. By nightfall, it had strengthened enough to become Tropical Storm Arthur, the first named storm of 2020. The hurricane season officially runs from June 1 to Nov. 30 each year, but as we all know, Mother Nature often ignores us humans. The best we can... Read more →


This U.S. Department of Justice mug shot of Al Capone was taken four months before his tax eviction conviction on Oct. 17, 1931. It's 89 years, later and Scarface still gets our attention, most recently in a movie about his later days. If there's one tiny sliver of silver lining in coronavirus self-isolation, it's that I feel a bit better about shelling out money for added television features. During our stay-home time, the hubby and I are taking advantage of premium cable, as well as the multiple streaming platforms to which we subscribe. Right now, my viewing tastes are winning.... Read more →


Updated Friday May 15, 2020, 7 p.m. CDT Many found the first $1,200 (at most) of coronavirus relief payments to be too little and a tad too late. This latest round of relief, which calls for additional payments of up to $6,000 for some families, isn't likely to advance beyond the House in its current form, but at least it's a start toward more federal financial help. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi opens debate on the latest COVID-19 relief bill. (Live House video feed screenshot) Today's good COVID-19 relief news is that the House is expected to vote on (and pass)... Read more →


Sorry, but no matter how much your cat "helps" in your home office, the feline will not qualify as an employee, whose costs are tax deductible. However, you might be able to write off a part of your personal residence's homeowner's policy. (Photo by Lisa Omarali via Flicker CC) The hubby and I are still in self-quarantine, but while we've put the brakes on most of our regular activities, one part of our life is continuing as usual. Our house. Every homeowner will tell you that in addition to being the complete kings and queens of your (for the most... Read more →


I admit it. When I make an occasional foray into the coronavirus world, which is a quick trip to my local grocery every 10 days or so to buy milk, I look at the lottery ticket machines. Did you know that the Mega Millions jackpot is $255 million? Powerball is a relatively paltry $77 million, not that I'd turn it down if my numbers came up. And yes, I did buy tickets. Why, ask my more frugal and fiscally conservative readers? Because I'm bored. There's only so much to stream or read or rewatch or reread. The possibility of being... Read more →


The child care workplace benefit, as well as medical ones, are enhanced under two just-issued Internal Revenue Service notices. If your job doesn't offer child care benefits, you might be able to get other tax help in taking care of your youngsters via a tax credit. This mom is representative of many parents, who are starting to feel the pressure of weeks of quarantining with and homeschooling their children during COVID-19 stay-home orders. Earlier this year as the coronavirus was surreptitiously infecting Americans, lots of parents were going about their usual business, which included making summer plans for their children.... Read more →